13 September 2015 / Team News

Emlyn lose by narrow margin


Newcastle Emlyn were given a harsh lesson in the reality of life in the Championship. In a match in which they should have won, they ended up losing by the narrow margin of two points due to their own errors and some desperate defending by Glynneath in the last ten minutes of the game. In fact it would have been a travesty if Glynneath had lost the match for Emlyn played so poorly on occasions that they did not deserve to be in with a shout of winning at the end of the game.

Urged on by the large, vocal home support Emlyn laid siege to the Glynneath line during a frantic ten minute period at the end of the game. Centre Steffan Evans and scrum half Mike Jones were both held up over the try line as they went for the winning score. Number eight Brynmor Jones went on an angled run from a scrum and looked certain to give a scoring pass to the supporting Evans only for him to inexplicably drop the ball. The Emlyn scrum which had been dominant for most of the game tried three times to go for a push over try, but were unable to shift the visitors eight. With almost the last move of the game winger Llyr Jones was tackled around his ankles as he tried to run around his opposite number. But all to no avail.

The game itself started at a frantic pace and it was the visitors who were out of the blocks far quicker than the home side. Any thoughts Emlyn had of creating Dol Wiber as an intimidating fortress vanished in the first ten minutes as the visitors took the game to Emlyn with pace and power. Glynneath full back Chris Moore opened the scoring after just seven minutes with a well struck penalty. Followed shortly afterwards by a try by right winger Jordan Griffiths, converted by Moore, when they capitalised on some loose play and poor tackling by Emlyn.  

To their credit, with every spectator fearful of a cricket score coming up Emlyn did buckle down to some hard work and started to work as a team. A strong run up field by flanker Joel James, was carried on by Steffan Evans, and from that ruck co-centre Viv Jenkins jinked his way over for a good try converted by outside half Giovanni Cipriani.

Emlyn made a complete mess of the restart with no forward looking as if they wanted to catch the ball. The knock on hit an Emlyn player and they were fortunate that Moore was just off target with the penalty attempt. Glynneath had the bit between their teeth now and launched wave after wave of attacks at Emlyn with centre James Pike proving to be a real handful with his powerful diagonal runs through some pathetic Emlyn attempts at tackles by the forwards.

Rather against the run of play Emlyn took the lead when some excellent line speed in defence saw the Emlyn backs putting so much pressure on Glynneath that centre Jenkins was able to step inside his opposite number and receive the pass intended for him. Some quick inter passing saw flying winger Llyr Jones put away on a sixty metre run to outpace the visitors defence and score a try converted by Cipriani.

The first half settled down slightly with defences dominating proceedings. Emlyn gained some ascendancy at the scrum with some powerful work by the front row of Jack Parry, skipper Alex Williams and tight head Xabier Garmendia, but this was nullified by some quite awful line out work. The breeze blowing across the field and Glynneath competing for the ball unsettled the normally smooth operating Emlyn line out and Emlyn struggled to win any ball at this situation throughout the game.

With five minutes left on the half Cipriani increased Emlyn’s lead with a well struck penalty kick. Then on the stroke of half time Jenkins again intercepted a pass on his own twenty two metre line. Unfortunately he did not have the pace to go all the way and with the Glynneath cover coming across he was desperately looking for the speedster Llyr Jones. Jones came up outside him like an express train but instead of staying on the outside line, cut back inside and was taken out by the covering defenders.

Whatever was said by their coaches to them at half time certainly galvanised Gynneath into action at the beginning of the second half. With the slightly diagonal breeze at their backs they used it wisely to drive Emlyn back deep into their own twenty two. With their line out struggling Emlyn had a great deal of difficulty getting out of their own half and when they did obtain some possession kicked it away allowing the visitors ample time to counter attack.

Quick thinking by scrum half Mike Jones saw him take a tap penalty on his own twenty two line. Some excellent inter passing brought play up to the Gynneath twenty two when, what would have been a try scoring pass for winger Jones, was deemed forward by the excellent referee Justin Evans from Aberdare.

Glynneath quickly re-established themselves in the Emlyn half and were only kept out by some excellent tackling and some fine turnovers won by open side flanker Steven Leonard. From one such turnover disaster struck Emlyn when the ball was passed to full back Llyr Davies who got caught in possession before he could get a relieving kick in, five metres from his own line. The ball was turned over and the excellent Ben Jones at scrum half chipped the ball into the Emlyn in goal area for replacement outside half Lloyd Thomas to win the race to score another try for the visitors.

Emlyn really went on the defensive and tried to protect their slender lead by kicking downfield any possession they had instead of retaining the ball by going through the phases. From one such situation Lloyd Thomas caught the ball and as the Emlyn defensive line came up on him he realised that there was a great deal of room behind the Emlyn line. He chipped over them, caught the bouncing ball, and when he came up to the last defender, repeated the trick, and scored under the posts for Moore to add the extra points.

Bedwyr Davies and Alun Howells came on for the home side, with Steffan Evans reverting to full back but Emlyn still continued to hug the touchline rather than opening the game out and using their scrum advantage. Coach Marc Lloyd replaced both props with Dai Jones and Gethin Davies and the visitors continued to struggle in this department. Cipriani with twelve minutes to go reduced Glynneath’s lead with another excellent penalty goal and the crowd were treated to an exciting finale to a match the home side should have won if they could have cut out their mistakes and poor option taking.          

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